Series Preview: Angels Face Red-Hot Marlins With Aces On The Mound
Shohei Ohtani
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angels Angels are coming off of a difficult holiday weekend against the Houston Astros. Over the course of three games, the Angels rarely looked competitive, struggling at the plate and on the mound. But they have a chance to correct that with a two-game set against the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins have been playing some of their best baseball of late. They’ve swept two of their last four opponents, and are 9-4 in their last 13 games. This has stemmed from a huge increase in offensive production.

Miami has had some of the league’s best starting pitching all season, but they’ve increased their run-scoring and it has led to instant results. They’ve also been successful at home this season, with a 19-16 record compared with 19-24 on the road.

For the Halos, stealing two wins will not be easy. But given where they are in the standings after several weeks of difficult outings, it’s beginning to feel necessary.

Game 1: 3:40 p.m. PT

For the series opener, the Angels have Noah Syndergaard on the bump. Despite completely re-working who he is as a pitcher, Thor has been a steadfast piece of the Angels rotation. His strikeouts rates are the lowest they’ve been in his career, but he’s remained effective all the while.

Through his first 12 starts, Syndergaard has posted a 3.86 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP with a just-above league average ERA+ of 102.

Meanwhile, the Marlins have their ace — and one of the best young pitchers in baseball — on the mound in Game 1. Sandy Alcantara has been dominant in 2022, putting together a 1.95 ERA, an 0.954 WHIP, and 97 strikeouts in 16 starts.

Outside of allowing a few too many walks, Alcantara has been next-to-flawless this season. In 2019, when Alcantara was an All-Star, he had a WAR of 3.3 on the season. In just three months of 2022, his WAR is 4.5. He’s a legitimate Cy Young candidate in the NL.

If the Angels are going to find success against Alcantara, they’ll need to be patient with pitch counts in the early innings. Alcantara’s worst ERA comes in the sixth inning, meaning patience needs to be a virtue.

This also puts pressure on Syndergaard to deliver a quality start. He can’t allow the Marlins to get a jump on the scoreboard, as their starter will ensure that lead stays intact.

Game 2: 3:40 p.m. PT

The Angels have their two-way phenom getting the start in this series closer. Shohei Ohtani — in the midst of a dominant six-week stretch — is looking to once again will L.A. to victory. Ohtani has struck out 101 batters in 74.0 innings of work so far this season.

This has arguably been Ohtani’s best year as a pitcher, as he has finally decreased his walk totals while maintaining his efficiency with strikeouts and hard-hit baseballs. He’s also been excelling at the plate in recent weeks.

The Marlins have their 2021 All-Star and Rookie of the Year finalist Trevor Rogers as their starter. Rogers is not having the year that was expected from him after being an electric force last season.

A 5.56 ERA and 1.588 WHIP tell the story of a pitcher getting hit around and allowing free bases often. His strikeout numbers remain strong from last season, but he is walking batters significantly more and his home run rate has tripled from 2021.

His poor performances have been spread out somewhat evenly by inning, as teams have found ways to do damage in the early phases of his starts or towards the back-end. This represents a serious opportunity for the Halos, especially if Alcantara shuts things down in Game 1.

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